My favourite race of the year, definitely in great shape, but on the day the body said no...
Arrived in good time and did a good warm-up incorporating a 3 minute race-paced effort to prime the system ready for the off. It was a dry breezy day but I was hoping from shelter from the wind as we ran through town, then it should be easy going once hitting the prom around 6km for the run home.
Lined up behind Martin Fagan and soon we were off and running. A very slow start - none of the top guys were pushing it at all and I almost ran into the guy in front. After a couple of hundred meters Martin took up the running and Sean Hehir went off in pursuit. I was left chasing and it was nice to get some clear road to stretch out the legs.
Still a quick first km (3:01) and up around Eyre Square I had closed in on Rob Cross. We got caught in traffic as we crossed the bridge running towards the Cathedral and had to switch to the pavement to avoid a bus and cars. Then went into auto-pilot and started heading right (old course) only to be called back to go the opposite direction. That was frustrating but acted to get me fired up and to continue running hard.
Around the car park and through 2km with a disappointing split of 3:18. Then turned left for the run up to the hospital. Was feeling okay and had passed Rob and with the leaders way up the road I was almost in time trial mode. A left turn at the hospital and then pushed on heading towards Salthill.
Another crap split through 3km (3:19) and something wasn't right. The legs were a little heavy and it seemed tough going. Between 3 and 4 there is a nice downhill which at least helped me get the legs moving again and I passed halfway with a split of 3:15 which was okay but way down on target pace of around 3:10.
Then it was a right hand turn and I really started to struggle. There was a long drag and I was hardly moving and I expected people to come flying past me any moment. At the top of the climb it flattened out a bit and I had nothing left to lift the pace. A few more turns and through 5km with a shocking split of 3:24 to give me 16:17 at 5km (I was targeting around 15:50).
I knew it should get easier from here on in and with the help of some downhill sections and the wind on the back I managed to get going again as I ran down onto the prom. Through 6km with a 3:15 and then it felt a lot easier. Nobody around me and ran the last section as best I could with a 3:09 and then a 3:03 to finish with (time 25:44). So 6th place, first Galway based runner and first vet (but over a minute behind the top 5!).
Really disappointed with that. Thinking about it now it was clear that something wasn't right. My heart rate had been running high towards the end of the week and I had stomach cramps on the day. Just one of those things so at least it's explainable.
A short 1km warm-down and then straight home for a dinner party. I must have been bad as I struggled to have a beer but I kept persevering and eventually pulled up stumps at 3:30 in the morning Ouch.
Well done to all who took part in the race. Superb organisation as always and great to see Galway at its best tonight. I can honestly say I've never had so much support out on the course tonight and for that I'm very grateful. Pity I couldn't have put on more of a show as I thought I was on the brink of something special. Next time!